View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 31, 1998
                         PRIORITIES FOR THE FALL

                             August 31, 1998

President Clinton is committed to helping prepare our students and our country for the 21st Century by enacting proposals to strengthen and invest in public education, expand access to higher education, and provide those who need it with the training needed to succeed in the workplace. Today, President Clinton will participate in a roundtable discussion at Herndon Elementary School in which he will discuss his education and training priorities for the remainder of this Congressional session. These priorities include:

  1. MODERNIZING OUR SCHOOLS. President Clinton is committed to ensuring that we help prepare all students for the future, by providing them with safe, modern school buildings, small classes and access to up-to-date technology.
       School Modernization Tax Credits.  To help rebuild, modernize 
       and build over 5,000 public schools, President Clinton will 
       work with the Congress to pass Federal tax credits to pay
       interest on nearly $22 billion in bonds at a cost of $5 billion
       over five years.

       Reducing Class Size.  President Clinton is committed to helping 
       local schools provide smaller classes with well-prepared
       teachers in the early grades.  The initiative would provide $12.4
       billion over seven years to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a
       nationwide average of 18 and help make sure that every child
       receives personal attention, gets a solid foundation for further
       learning, and learns to read independently and well by the end of
       third grade.


Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to bringing technology into the classroom and to ensuring that all children are technologically literate by the dawn of the 21st century. The House-passed appropriations bill cuts the President's request for educational technology by $180 million; for example, it eliminates $75 million for technology teacher training, which would help new teachers learn to use technology effectively to strengthen instruction and enhance student learning, and it cuts $50 million from the President's request for the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, which would deny funding to 400 school districts to provide students and teachers with access to classroom computers, training and the latest educational software and telecommunications technology. The President will also continue to strongly oppose any effort by the Congress to repeal or delay the "e-rate" -- an expansion of universal service to provide discounted Internet access and telecommunications services to schools and libraries.


work with Congress this fall to complete work on bipartisan legislation to strengthen federal support for the growing charter schools movement, to help meet his goal of establishing 3,000 high-quality charter schools by early in the next century. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan support to direct federal resources for charter schools to states that increase the number of charter schools, provide them with maximum flexibility, and periodically review their performance. The Administration has worked with Senators of both parties to strengthen the bill to increase accountability for academic performance in charter schools and ensure that charter schools receive their fair share of other federal education funds. The President will call on Congress to send him legislation that meets these goals before the end of the session.


RECRUITING AND PREPARING GOOD TEACHERS, AND MENTORING MIDDLE-SCHOOL STUDENTS. Congress must pass the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Passed in different forms by both Houses, this bill would reduce interest rates on student loans, consistent with the Administration's proposal announced by the Vice President earlier this year. It will also extend the Pell Grant program, which provides billions of dollars in college aid for low income students, and the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students work their way through college.

       High Hopes Mentoring Initiative.  President Clinton will also
       work to ensure that the Higher Education Act includes his High
       Hopes mentoring initiative, to inspire more of our young people
       to have high expectations, to stay in school, and to go to
       college.  He will also urge the Congress to provide the initial
       $140 million in his FY 1999 budget request to launch this

       Teacher Preparation and Recruitment.  The President will also
       work to ensure that the Higher Education Act includes, and the
       Congress funds,  his proposal to strengthen teacher training
       programs and provide scholarships to 35,000 well-prepared
       teachers who commit to teaching in underserved urban or rural
       schools.  He will also work with Congress to include new
       proposals to strengthen accountability for teacher education


President Clinton proposed the America Reads program, to mobilize an army of volunteer tutors to help all children read independently and well by the end of the third grade. In the Balanced Budget Agreement, the Congress pledged to fund an early literacy initiative based on this proposal. President Clinton looks forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion with the Congress to meet this commitment and pass an early literacy bill and fund the initiative. The literacy bill, now pending in Congress, would ensure that children receive quality instruction from well-trained teachers and have opportunities to practice and further develop their reading skills after school and on weekends with trained tutors. It would also help ensure that families receive the support they need to help our youngest children develop necessary language and literacy skills from infancy so that when they get to school they are ready to learn to read. One of the reasons President Clinton is fighting to expand Head Start is so that our children start school ready to learn, which is an important first step to early literacy.

6. STRENGTHENING PUBLIC EDUCATION. President Clinton will work to

restore $2 billion in Congressional cuts to his proposed investments to strengthen public schools, and expand access to higher education, and invest in preparing our youth to enter the workforce:

       After-School Programs.  The President will work to ensure that
       Congress fully funds his efforts to strengthen after-school
       programs.  The House Republicans provide $140 million less than
       the President's request, which would deny about 425,000 children
       access to safe learning centers.

       Expanding Head Start.  President Clinton is committed to
       ensuring that children enter school ready to learn -- that is why
       he will continue to press Congress to fully fund his request for
       Head Start.  The President will work to restore the $160 million
       House Republicans underinvest in Head Start -- which would deny
       slots to 25,000 low-income children.

       Title I (Education for the Disadvantaged).  The President will
       fight the Republican efforts to cut $392 million in grants to
       high-poverty school districts, which would mean that 520,000
       students in high-poverty communities would not get extra help to
       master the basics and meet high-academic standards.

       Goals 2000.  The President will fight Republican efforts to
       cut by $255 million (51%) Goals 2000, reversing support for
       efforts to raise academic standards, affecting 6,000 schools
       serving over 3 million students.

       Hispanic Education Action Plan.  Because the education of
       Hispanic Americans requires special attention -- their high
       school drop-out rate, for example, is unacceptably high --
       President Clinton is committed to ensuring that his $600 million
       Hispanic Education Action Plan is fully funded.  This action plan
       provides for the increased investments necessary to help students
       master the basic skills (Title I), and become proficient in
       English (Bilingual Education), help schools implement
       research-proven reforms to reduce drop-out rates (Comprehensive
       School Reform), help adults receive basic skills training and
       participate in English-as-a-second-language programs (Adult
       Education), and provide assistance to colleges and universities
       that serve large numbers of Hispanic students.

       Education Opportunity Zones.  The President will fight for his
       Education Opportunity Zones initiative, which would help
       high-poverty urban and rural communities increase student
       achievement by raising standards, improving teaching, ending
       social promotions, and turning around failing schools.

       Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities.  The President will
       fight Republican efforts to cut Safe and Drug-Free Schools by $50
       million, eliminating funding for School Coordinators to help
       fight drug and alcohol abuse and increase school safety.


President Clinton's top priorities this fall is ensuring that Republicans not eliminate the Summer Jobs Program -- which provides work experience disadvantaged youth -- and the new Youth Opportunity Areas initiative -- which helps provide hope and opportunity to youth in high-poverty areas.

       Summer Jobs.  Up to 530,000 disadvantaged young people would be
       denied the opportunity to gain skills and valuable work
       experience over the summer months, if the House Republican budget
       plan passes.  The President is absolutely committed to ensuring
       that all of the money for the summer jobs program is restored
       because studies show that the Summer Jobs initiative works: a
       1995 report concluded that more than three out of four young
       people enrolled in the program would have been jobless without

       Youth Opportunity Areas.  The House Republican budget does not
       fund the $250 million requested in the President's FY 99 Budget
       and rescinds $250 million that was appropriated last year for
       this program.  The President will fight to restore the full
       funding for this initiative because it will help provide job
       opportunities for up to 50,000 youth in the poorest communities.

       School-to-Work.  The President will work to ensure that House
       Republicans do not cut School-to-Work by $100 million, seriously
       hampering efforts in all States to help young people move from
       High school to careers or postsecondary training and education.

Program Order:
Herndon Elementary School Principal Michele Freeman Secretary Riley
President Clinton Opens Roundtable Discussion Roundtable Discussion
Secretary Riley Concludes Roundtable Discussion President Clinton Makes Closing Remarks

Roundtable Participants:
President Clinton
Secretary Riley
Principal Michele Freeman
Vice Principal Jude Isaacson
JoAnn Shackelford, Reading Specialist, Fairfax County teacher Martha Bell, 1st Grade teacher
E. Tracy Lewis, President of Herndon Elementary School PTA Maria Gorski, Parent and Parent Liaison and Translator for the school Daniel Domenech, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools